Success Stories

Juliano’s Ristorante

Over twenty years, Nick Scalise has systematically elevated his restaurant’s service excellence by reviewing customer feedback with his team daily and requiring his employees to develop a problem solving mindset along the way. As a result, Juliano’s Ristorante, in McKeesport, PA, continues to grow profitably despite tough times.

Owner Nick Scalise trains his team, with a simple pencil and paper technique, to become problem solvers themselves. That is, whenever Nick spots a problem, he requires the involved employee(s) to complete a brief four question “problem solving” worksheet, kept at work stations throughout the restaurant.

For example, if yesterday several customers mentioned that their server (Giulia) did not refill their glasses, Nick would privately meet with her to share their feedback and ask her to complete a worksheet:

1) What is the problem? Guests were unhappy because their glasses did not get refilled.

2) What is the root cause? I did not revisit their tables enough.

3) What are some practical solutions? A. Leave water pitchers at tables. B. Watch harder for empty glasses. C. Briefly stop by two extra tables every time I return to the kitchen.

4) What is the best solution? C. This will help me also understand what else they may need (and they will see that I am paying attention to them).

Nick’s approach works because he never tells his employees “what to do.” Instead, he either accepts their proposed solution or he asks them to consider some additional information. Eventually, this gets them to internalize a problem solving mindset and shows them how to see the world from the customer’s viewpoint!

Once that happens, managing individual employees takes far less of his time, because they become self motivated, think ahead to avoid problems, and feel “ownership” for wowing customers!

Consistently exceeding guest expectations requires knowing what those expectations are from day to day (and whether they are being met)! So Nick religiously seeks daily feedback from:

Customer Satisfaction Cards. All guests and delivery customers receive comment cards asking them to rate their Juliano’s experience as Wow!!, Excellent, Good, Average, or Poor. (Internally, only “Wow!!” and “Excellent” are considered passing grades.)

Online Feedback Form. Delivery customers are encouraged to share their feedback via a form on Juliano’s website.

Restaurant Rating Websites. Nick also monitors rating websites like and to see whenever consumers have posted new Juliano’s reviews.

Positive feedback is celebrated with the entire team. Mediocre comments are privately discussed with the responsible employees, who must then propose appropriate future solutions.

Because each repeat customer is worth thousands of dollars in future sales, Nick personally contacts all guests who offered lukewarm/negative responses in order to:

1) Sincerely apologize without making any excuses.

2) Ask what happened, to help his team do better next time.

3) Insist on doing something generous “to make things right,” no matter whose fault it was.

By measuring guest expectations daily and making the team responsible for improvement, Juliano’s continues setting itself apart from the competition!